Meet Richard Hettler
Conservative website the Daily Caller recently published accusations that Amy Klobuchar protected Tom Petters from prosecution when she was Hennepin County Attorney in the 1990s. In two stories, the Daily Caller has relied on Richard Hettler as a source to make this case. But nobody has examined the credibility of this source, nor has any media outlet examined the depth of the conspiracy that Hettler alleges.
While Republicans have desperately seized on this story in a search for anything that could make a mark on Klobuchar, deploying Petters (via Hettler) as a partisan political weapon is both shady and hypocritical. And the Kurt Bills campaign, in their first (only?) campaign ad has chosen to push this issue.
If you accept Hettler’s version of events, you also have to embrace a sweeping conspiracy involving dozens of judges, politicians of both parties, at least three cabinet-level officials in at least two Presidential administrations, federal law enforcement officers, and others.
Hettler was prosecuted by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office for theft by swindle while he was the trustee of his deceased brother’s estate and for felony failure to pay child support. The theft charges were filed in April 1998. Klobuchar won election as Hennepin County Attorney in November 1998 and took office in January of 1999. In February 1999, Hettler plead guilty, and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison. In April 1999, in a Star Tribune article about her first 100 days in office, Klobuchar singled out Hettler’s prosecution as “send[ing] the message to the community” about her tough stance on child support payments.
However, in Hettler’s version of events, his prosecution is part of an attempt to cover up the embezzlement of over a million dollars from his own funds and his late brother’s estate. Hettler alleges that in his subsequent attempts to get back his money from the government through lawsuits and political remedies, his life was threatened, federal agents have been deployed against him by corrupt judges, and that politicians have either ignored his case or participated in the coverup. And in his version of events, the many times he’s lost in the courts in his attempt to recover that money is evidence that the entire court system is corrupt.
In short, if you accept Hettler as a credible source, then you’d better get ready to throw out every judge in Minnesota, and believe that the entire judicial system is rigged.
In a video recorded on June 8, 2008 at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, Hettler lays out this sweeping conspiracy. The video starts with an odd statement, considering this video is freely available on Google Video:
“This video is not for public consumption, since if it got in the hands of the offending judges, my life and liberty will be placed in more grave danger than it already is. This video, therefore, is for the eyes of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and others who I deem appropriate.”
At several points later in the video, he expresses concern that if this video were leaked, his life would be in danger. There are actually several arguments between the camera operator and interviewers about whether Hettler should talk about his case at all for his safety, but the video continues to return to Hettler’s allegations of judicial corruption in the same case that the Daily Caller story is based on.
Hettler alleges that there are “many bad judges” in Minnesota, and adds that judges in Colorado, Mississippi, New York, Texas, and elsewhere have participated in suppressing his pro se judicial actions. He also makes an exhaustive list of politicians in both parties whom he alleges are personally aware of this situation, including:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota,) former Sen. (and current Gov.) Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota,) deceased Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois,) Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin,) Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas,) Former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Michigan,) Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah,) Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida,) Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa,) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont,) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia,) among others.
In a Twitter account (@MinneapolisCEO) that appears to be his, Hettler also claims that Attorney General Eric Holder, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones participated in the Petters fraud and abetted the theft of his money.
In addition, he alleges the following federal offices have either ignored his case or participated in persecuting him, including the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees, the criminal division of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
After his attempts to unveil what he characterizes as widespread judicial corruption, he intimates that a judge in his case employed federal agents as his “personal Gestapo.”
“Such led to the near taking of my life, especially after my home was visited on May 4, 2007 by U.S. Marshals, the FBI, and two Secret Service, all armed with .45 caliber pistols. My wife and I were horrified, and were convinced they had been sent to our home to kill us while I was resting in bed in the aftermath of my stroke. I was subsequently advised by a colleague that one of the judges who presided over my case has patterned behavior of using such force to scare off litigants by using the U.S. Marshal Service, the FBI and the Secret Service as its personal Gestapo.”
Hettler has made many attempts to generate media coverage of his theory of widespread judicial corruption. The Twitter feed signed by him has tweeted at Maria Bartiromo, Greta van Susteren, Dylan Ratigan, Chris Hayes, and others with appeals to look into the case. With the Daily Caller, it appears that he’s finally succeeded in finding a media outlet willing to run with the story. And he’s found a political opportunist in Kurt Bills, who’ll base his final appeal to Minnesota voters on the strength of this story. Bon chance, Kurt Bills, bon chance.
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